Sherman keeps quiet, overcomes elbow injury
SEATTLE (AP) There was no prancing around the field in celebration or loud, passion-filled postgame interview lighting up social media.
Richard Sherman slowly jogged off the field with his left arm pinned against his chest, just how it had been for most of the fourth quarter of Sunday’s NFC championship game.
Seattle’s All-Pro cornerback had his left elbow painfully sandwiched between Green Bay’s James Starks and pursuing teammate Kam Chancellor on the first play of the fourth quarter.
It was a bad hyperextension and Sherman was unable to straighten his arm.
”We had battled this long. The NFC championship is not the time to go out with an injury,” Sherman said. ”If I can walk and I can still move my feet I think I’ll play.”
Sherman leapt into the spotlight in last season’s NFC championship game against San Francisco, first with his deflected pass that Malcolm Smith intercepted to seal Seattle’s Super Bowl trip, followed by his loud, shouting TV interview with most of his anger directed at Colin Kaepernick and Michael Crabtree.
This NFC title game was far quieter. Sherman intercepted Aaron Rodgers in the end zone on Green Bay’s opening possession, his second straight postseason game with an interception. But he was mostly silent otherwise, until doubling over in pain after getting the brunt of Chancellor’s hit on the first play of the fourth quarter.
When Seattle was on defense, Sherman played with one arm, using his right hand to still jam and control receivers. Once he got to the sideline, Sherman immediately sat on the bench, head draped, rocking back and forth and seemingly trying to convince himself he could continue.
Even Sherman was surprised that Rodgers didn’t throw more his direction.
”I thought once I went down with my elbow the rest of the game I was going to have a lot of action,” Sherman said. ”I think I still had pretty tight coverage on my guy.”
Only once was Sherman tasked with making an open-field stop. He tackled Jordy Nelson for a 6-yard gain on third down that forced Green Bay to settle for the field goal that forced overtime.
”Honestly I just kind of threw him around and hoped that I could get enough squeeze to get him down and fortunately my right arm came around. I just wanted to slow him down with my left,” Sherman said. ”It didn’t feel great. I’m not going to lie.”
Sherman didn’t give any diagnosis, other than to mention ligaments and he was leaving the rest to doctors. But asked about his availability for the Super Bowl, Sherman was certain.
”I will 100 percent be able to play,” he said.
INJURY WORRIES: Seattle has more injury concerns than just Sherman heading into the Super Bowl. All-Pro safety Earl Thomas suffered a left shoulder injury in the second quarter, but returned before halftime and played the entire second half. Guard J.R. Sweezy also appeared to be slowed by a foot injury in the second half but never left the game.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said he expected everyone to be available in two weeks.
QUIET LACY: Packers running back Eddie Lacy was succinct when asked to describe his feelings after the game.
”Sad,” he said.
Lacy finished with 21 carries for 73 yards in Green Bay’s loss. In a crucial possession in the fourth quarter, quarterback Aaron Rodgers handed off to Lacy three straight times, and Green Bay failed to get the first down.
The Packers inability to convert a first down in the fourth quarter cost the team in the end. Lacy said he couldn’t tell whether Seattle was using a run blitz on him.
”I was just out there trying to get as many yards as I could,” he said.
Lacy led the Packers following the regular season with 1,139 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. He ran for 101 yards in Green Bay’s 26-21 victory over the Dallas Cowboys last weekend.
”It’s tough,” he said. ”For some guys, it lasts longer than others. Next year, we just use it as motivation, so when we get to this point again, we’ll remember what happened today, and hopefully that will help us out.”
NO. 1 VS. NO. 1: This was the 12th game since the 1970 merger in which the top-ranked scoring offense (Green Bay) played the stingiest scoring defense (Seattle). The defensive team has won seven times, including the past two: the Seahawks win over Denver in last year’s Super Bowl, and Sunday’s 28-22 victory for the NFC title.
The other top defensive teams to win were the 1976 Steelers over the Colts in a divisional game; the 1978 Steelers over the Cowboys in the `79 Super Bowl; the 1980 Eagles over the Cowboys in the NFC championship; the 1984 49ers in the `85 Super Bowl against the Dolphins; the 1990 Giants vs. the Bills in the `91 Super Bowl; and the 2013 Seahawks over the Broncos in last February’s Super Bowl.
GAME STATS: Rodgers had a 102.2 passer rating this season, but just a 55.8 Sunday, going 19 of 34 for 178 yards with one TD and two interceptions. He was sacked just once despite his diminished mobility, and also was plagued by several drops by his receivers.
Russell Wilson, whose 36 regular-season wins are the most in any quarterback’s first three seasons, went 14 for 29 for 209 yards, with the four interceptions and one TD – which won the game. He was sacked five times.
Marshawn Lynch had 37 yards at halftime, then rushed for 120 in the second half and OT.
Seahawks All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner was in on 10 tackles, while Morgan Burnett led Green Bay with 10 tackles, including two sacks. Julius Peppers had 1 1/2 sacks for the Packers.
AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner and AP Sports Writer Anne M. Peterson contributed to this report.
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